Though it's no architectural masterpiece with canvas boxes tacked onto thatched adobe huts, it works. Beautifully. Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge is probably the most tasteful and authentic Kalahari lodge we've come across.
Most Kalahari offerings, being a few hours' drive south of Windhoek en route to Sossusvlei, aim at the stopover market. Folly for the Kalahari is quite possibly the most enchanting, serene and beautiful piece of African bush you could ever hope to experience. And experience it you will at Red Dunes Lodge with a variety of hiking trails ranging from a few hours to fully guided, luxury overnight walks through the achingly beautiful Kalahari landscape with plenty of wildlife and birdlife to see along the way.
The chalets at Red Dunes Lodge, spread far and wide around a central watering hole, are delightfully ramshackle African huts with thatched roofs, adobe walls, wooden decks and a canvas-sided living area. The soft Kalahari grass grows right up to the edge and the whole place has a refreshing absence of lawns, palm tress or water features - it's just you and nature plus a few creature comforts thrown in.
Those comforts include a natural stone-tiled en suite bathroom with plenty of hot water and flushing toilets. An additional outdoor shower looks out over the waterhole and the red dunes beyond. Furnished with wonderful restored cists, writing bureaux, trunks and tables that must have taken aeons to source, the décor evokes a pioneering spirit of adventure.The main lodge, themed in the same way but just a lot bigger than the already big chalets, has a wonderful dining area, bar and an open deck facing the waterhole. A swimming pool off to one side is a splendid place to watch the Kalahari plains game pass by.And to top it all, the Red Dunes Lodge is just off the main road south from Windhoek. The two-hour drive is all tar except for the last 3km once you are in the private reserve grounds. So you can be out in the bush, experiencing the wonder of the Kalahari just two hours after clearing customs at the airport. Not a bad way to start the day.
Dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation in 12 rustic chalets; en suite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers; log fireplaces; shaded viewing deck facing the waterhole and dunes; restaurant, bar and lounge with a huge fireplace (Kalahari winters are cold); waterhole viewing deck; swimming pool
Hiking, hiking and more hiking, the Red Dunes Lodge is a hiking and outdoor activity destination with the wonderful Trans Kalahari Walk taking first prize; the private reserve also has many well-marked trails for self-guided, self-paced hikes; wildlife includes giraffe, zebra, eland, oryx, wildebeest, nyala, springbok, ostrich, impala and many fascinating birds, insects and reptiles. You can also follow the trails on good quality mountain bikes or take to the classic game drive vehicle stopping for a scenic sunset cocktail atop a Kalahari dune. And with a record-breaking marathon runner in residence, the lodge has a special hard-packed jogging trail up to 20km long so if you really want to stretch your legs after that long flight what better way than a run through the wilds of the Kalahari? The giraffe will think you're crazy but I suspect that's a universal notion.